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J Med Microbiol. 2008 Mar;57(Pt 3):279-86. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.47642-0.

Glycosyltransferase: a specific marker for the discrimination of Bacillus anthracis from the Bacillus cereus group.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Bacillus anthracis, the aetiological agent of anthrax, has been taxonomically classified with the Bacillus cereus group, which comprises B. cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis, Bacillus mycoides, Bacillus pseudomycoides and Bacillus weihenstephanensis. Although the pathogenesis and ecological manifestations may be different, B. anthracis shares a high degree of DNA sequence similarity with its group member species. As a result, the discrimination of B. anthracis from its close relatives in the B. cereus group is still quite difficult. Suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was performed to search for genomic differences between a B. anthracis Korean isolate CR and the most closely related B. cereus type strain KCTC 3624(T). Two-hundred and five B. anthracis CR clones obtained by SSH underwent Southern hybridization, and comparative sequences were analysed using the blast program from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Subsequently, primer sets based on the glycosyltransferase group 1 family protein gene specific to B. anthracis were designed from the sequences of subtracted clones, and their specificities were evaluated using eight B. anthracis, 33 B. cereus, 10 B. thuringiensis, six B. mycoides, one B. pseudomycoides, one B. weihenstephanensis and 19 strains from 11 other representative Bacillus species. PCR primers specific for the glycosyltransferase group 1 family protein gene did not amplify the desired products from any of the Bacillus strains under examination, except B. anthracis alone. These findings may be useful in the future development of efficient diagnostic tools for the rapid identification of B. anthracis from other members of the B. cereus group.

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